Israel is increasingly concerned with the military build-up in Iraq amid intelligence reports that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps is solidifying its presence in the country, according to a senior Israeli Defense Forces officer. Of particular concern is the Pentagon’s approval in late 2011 of the sale of 36 F- 16 multi-role combat aircraft to Iraq. The planes will be built by Lockheed Martin in the US and are of the same configuration as Israeli F-16′s.
A former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the FBI says played a role in a 1996 terrorist attack that killed 19 U.S. servicemen, accompanied Iraq’s prime minister to the White House on Monday, attending an event at which President Obama trumpeted the end of the Iraq War.
Hadi Farhan al-Amiri, transportation minister in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, was part of the delegation that visited the White House to discuss Iraq’s future and Iran’s influence there, among other topics.
At a joint White House news conference with Mr. al-Maliki, Mr. Obama proclaimed that the U.S. is committed to being a major player in the region and that Iraq’s neighbors should take heed. He did not mention Iran by name.
Critics have accused Mr. al-Maliki, a Shiite, of acting at the behest of the Shiite government in Iran. But Mr. Obama told reporters that he believes the Iraqi prime minister when he says that “his interest is maintaining Iraqi sovereignty and preventing meddling by anybody inside of Iraq.”